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OPINION

The Rise Of DeSantis Is A Victory For Trump, If Only He Would See It

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Townhall.com.
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AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee

Last month, hard-core Trump supporters, including Sebastian Gorka, Kari Lake, and Laura Loomer, were circulating and commenting on the ‘news’ that leftist billionaire financier George Soros - possibly the evilest man on the planet - had thrown his 2024 presidential ‘support’ behind Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis. It was an absurdly false claim thoroughly refuted by every major fact-checking agency on every realm of the political sphere, yet even now you’ll hear the claim parroted by accounts with 12 followers named MAGAForeverGodKingTrump who boldly declare that they thought DeSantis was a good guy until they found out he was supported by Soros and - gasp - the Bush family.

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Kiss of death, right? Sure, they whiffed on the Soros stuff, but didn’t Jeb Bush - a former Florida governor himself - recently call DeSantis a “really effective governor” in a statement that was widely interpreted to mean an endorsement? Indeed he did, shortly before walking it back, ostensibly when it became obvious that any sort of Bush endorsement is radioactive with the MAGA base DeSantis must win at least a part of if he is to claim the nomination. As it should be. While many people forget just how effective and popular Bush was as governor of Florida, that was a different era. During the 2016 GOP primary, Trump justifiably and beautifully made mincemeat of the former president’s brother to the point that it was difficult to tell the difference between Jeb! and a limp spaghetti noodle.

The fact is, Bush positions on immigration, trade, and foreign policy are no longer selling points for Republicans hoping to get elected to anything higher than dog catcher, and that’s a good thing. Fortunately, Ron DeSantis doesn’t hold Jeb Bush’s positions on those or many other issues pertinent to the fight against all aspects of leftism today. Like it or not, the current political landscape demands battle-hardened statesmen and stateswomen of principle, not limp-wristed simps afraid of hurting the feelings of people who will hate you no matter what you believe or do. Ron DeSantis has been tested, time and time again, and he has continued to prove his mettle.

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So why would Jeb Bush, Paul Ryan - whose ‘endorsement’ is also the kiss of death even though Trump himself supported Ryan for House Speaker in 2017 - and other establishment types even think of publicly supporting someone like Ron DeSantis? If you’re an #AlwaysTrump personality-cult member on Twitter, you probably think it’s because DeSantis himself is ‘establishment.’ Nevermind that the guy co-founded the House Freedom Caucus well before Donald Trump emerged on the scene, has done nothing but take leftist scalp after leftist scalp in Florida since becoming governor, and expanded his voter base in a large, widely diverse state from a slim victory in 2018 to a near-landslide in 2022 without compromising a single inch of conservative principles.

The answer, I think, is that while it’s dumb for Trump supporters to diss DeSantis, it’s also become a bad political move for establishment types, for different reasons. To his credit, Donald Trump, despite his massive ego and irritating (to many) personality, brought core issues to the forefront of the political sphere and Republican policy. These issues, which include fair trade, a non-interventionist foreign policy, strict border controls, and economic populism, are absolutely necessary if the United States is to thrive long-term. 

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Before Trump, establishment Republicans were content to ignore them because they could do so and still hold on to power. Other politicians, most notably Pat Buchanan and Ron Paul, had tried running on those issues with moderate degrees of success, but were always eventually drowned out by the establishment. However, when it became clear, thanks to Trump, that they could win elections and still put America first, the Overton Window shifted in perhaps the most significant way in our lifetimes. Whether or not you like Donald Trump as a person, THAT is his greatest contribution to America, and it will be his lasting legacy for decades to come.

In sum, Donald Trump paved the way for Ron DeSantis, a younger and more likable candidate who has the potential - if he follows through - to do even greater things than his predecessor. Think about the beauty of it. Establishment Republicans like Jeb Bush and Paul Ryan have been forced to say good things about who could very well be the most anti-woke candidate in political history. Oh, they could buck it and support someone like Nikki Haley at first, and maybe some will, but they as well as anyone know the lay of the land in the GOP.

If Ron DeSantis manages to defeat Trump for the GOP nomination, he will quite likely garner the support of most of the so-called “neverTrump” crowd of the past two election cycles. Why? Because they want to win, and they are stubbornly coming to the realization that advocating for Trump’s policies - without the baggage of Trump himself - is the only way to do it. This is a victory for Donald Trump, and it would be a victory for the nation if only he would see it.

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